My husband and I are considering adding our son (he is married) as joint owner to our banking accounts in the event we should become ill or die. Would him being on our accounts be considered his and his wife’s personal property? If they would divorce would she be entitled to half of our accounts? We do not wish to set up a living trust since we do not own real property.
I think you should reconsider doing a trust. A trust is a very effective way to accomplish your objective of having your son pay the bills, without giving anything to his wife right now. You don’t say if you have any other children. If you have other children and you put his name only on the account, you may be disinheriting your other children.
If you don’t want to prepare a trust, there are other choices. The issue is not what happens if you die. You can do a payable on death option with your bank. The bank would give the account to your son at the death of the second of you to die. The problem is what happens if you become ill. You will need him to help you pay your bills.
If the account is in his name, he becomes one of the owners of the account. He has the right to take all of the cash. If you make him power of attorney instead, he can use the account to pay your bills, but the money is not his. You could make these changes the next time you go down to your branch. You, your husband and your son must be at the branch at the same time.
Think carefully about your choices.
This answer does not constitute legal advice and does not and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The law may vary depending on the state in which you reside. It is intended only to give some direction in which to seek assistance.
Circular 230 Disclosure: Pursuant to recently-enacted U.S. Treasury Department Regulations, I am now required to advise you that, unless otherwise expressly indicated, any federal tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended or written to be used, and may not be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein.
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